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My Paris Trip Report is Finally Finished!

My Paris Trip Report is Finally Finished!

Nov 29th, 2000, 07:29 PM
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My Paris Trip Report is Finally Finished!

I know this has been a long time coming. . .but my day to day report of our one week trip to Paris is finished. It is about ten pages long, so I will post it on my husband's web site. I will include the "logistics" section on this thread; those of you who may be interested in how we spent our time and where we ate, etc. may check out the web address. I would love to hear your responses after you have read the report.

Here is the web address:

Nov 29th, 2000, 07:36 PM
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Logistics--Part 1

Most of the initial research for the trip was done on the internet; then we talked to other travelers and looked at printed material. There was much discussion about which hotel to choose. The Fodor’s website has feedback about many hotels, and we decided that location was our highest priority. We narrowed the choice down to two hotels on the Left Bank in the Sixth Arrondissement, the Hotel Bersolys which had rooms decorated in the manner of various French paintings and was near the Musee D’Orsay, and the Grand Hotel des Balcons which was near the Luxembourg Gardens. We ultimately opted for the Balcons as it seemed to be nearer the sights that most interested us and was in the middle of a neighborhood of interesting shops and restaurants. This hotel turned out to be a great choice; the location was excellent and the hotel staff very helpful and friendly. The rates were also very reasonable, and on the low side for the area and quality of accommodation ($83/night for 2 with breakfast.) As in most French hotels, the rooms were small, and the bathroom held a tiny tub with a hand sprayer. We’ve stayed in Paris in larger rooms with nicer showers, but never in a hotel as nicely located! The Odeon metro stop was 2 blocks away, and we could access most Parisian sights with just one change of trains. Near the stop was a fast food type of establishment called “Snack Time” which sold sandwiches, pastries, and drinks. We went there once after our day-long excursion to Bruges, Belgium, and were pleasantly surprised at how good the pastries were—better, in fact, than those served at our hotel for breakfast. Needless to say, we became frequent patrons of Snack Time. Kathryn loved their goat cheese panini (sandwiches on baguette); Legene, Diana and Caitlin liked the cookies.

We used the internet to book the Airport Shuttle bus to transfer to the hotel as well as our Sunday Parisvision excursion to Bruges. Kathryn printed out French franc currency exchange “cheat sheets” from the web for each of us, and we constantly referred to them as we were deciding what to buy. We were glad to also have a sheet for Belgian francs although Diana figured out an easy algorithm—multiply by 2 and then divide by 100. French franc conversion wasn’t quite so easy—we had to multiply by .131. At any rate, the dollar was incredibly strong, so we felt that most things were really great buys!

Nov 29th, 2000, 07:38 PM
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Legene brought along a few guide books from the library; we used Rick Steves’ book while in several museums as his commentary was amusing as well as informative and he did a good job of identifying museum highlights. We also had a great little map book with good street detail (and a metro map as well.) This recommended book is called The Paris Mapguide by Michael Middleditch. We did not bring along the Cheap Eats guide so often recommended by others and were sorry we didn’t; choosing good restaurants turned out to be the biggest challenge for our group of four. We made a couple of errors but did have enough good meals that we did not end up disappointed by the French cuisine!

We made one restaurant reservation in advance from the U.S.—for the Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower. We booked a lunch two months in advance which is usual for that restaurant. Dinners need to be booked 4-6 months in advance, I believe. This restaurant has one Michelin star and a great location, so tables are in high demand. To allow for reservation phone calls to France, Kathryn added international calling to her MCI phone plan and, for an extra $5.00 per month, international calls were only 17 cents per minute. This plan also allowed for calls at the same rate from France to the U.S. by using the international calling card. She will eliminate the plan soon, now that we have returned from our trip.

Nov 29th, 2000, 07:40 PM
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One note on eating in France—upon reading newspaper reports about mad cow disease being discovered in the French countryside and in several groceries in France, we made the personal decision to avoid beef. This was not terribly restrictive as we ate lamb, duck, chicken, and fish, but there were a few times when we would have enjoyed an entrecote or veal!

Clothes and shoes were a pre-trip point of discussion; how to be comfortable to do lots of walking but not look too tacky. Since it was November, most of what showed was our coats, hats, and scarves, so our trip wardrobes really didn’t matter too much. We did take dark slacks, not jeans, and felt that we looked fine. It was rather cold, and we were glad we had taken some website advice to purchase silk long johns—they kept us all warm on some windy days. We also were glad for scarves and gloves. Comfortable shoes were great—Kathryn loved her new black Rockports with extra cushioning, Legene liked her Eccos, and the girls felt their sport shoes worked well. Kathryn did get a blister on her heel and found that Band-Aid’s Blister Block worked well and allowed her to continue walking for two more days!

Our weather was gray, with some sun and some rain. Travel umbrellas were a must, and the rain didn’t stop us from our activities. Fortunately, it didn’t rain all day long any day—that kind of weather must have been reserved for the floods in England which occurred while we were in France!

One thought regarding the museum passes. We bought a 5-day pass for 240FF. We visited about 4-5 museums during that time, and individually would have spent around 120FF for entrance fees. You need to be aggressive about museum-going to make these passes worthwhile (i.e. two museums per day.) The lines in November were not that long, so the advantage of not waiting in line due to the pass was not a great one. The moral of this story is, plan carefully and the pass is worthwhile, otherwise it makes better sense to just pay the admission fee at each museum individually.

Nov 29th, 2000, 08:09 PM
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What a great post! So literate and informative. Can't wait to access the website. Thanks so much for sharing.
Nov 30th, 2000, 06:00 AM
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Just finished reading your trip report on your website and it was great! It brought back great memories.

Two friends and I are going to Paris in March (first time for one) and I'm forwarding your website on to her to read.

Thanks for posting this.

Nov 30th, 2000, 08:55 AM
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Kathyrn, I am So SO very happy that you liked Balcons! I always recommend it and I just adore the neighborhood and its close proximaty to the Luxembourg Gardens. What a great trip report you have set me all to drooling waiting for my spring trip to Paris and London.....
Nov 30th, 2000, 11:32 AM
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Kathryn, I enjoyed your full trip report on the website, and am very envious of your Aurora Borealis experience--something I've always wanted to see!

FYI, duck confit is duck legs that are braised and salted and then preserved in rendered duck (and sometimes goose) fat. To serve, they are removed from the fat and usually crisped in a pan. It does have a slightly "cured" flavor (reminds me a bit of corned beef, but tasting of duck), but they should not be tough; if prepared well, they should be quite tender and nearly falling off the bone. I have also had less than stellar versions.

(another) Caitlin

P.S. If you desire more Bourjois cosmetics, they are sold at Sephora shops in the US, and on www.sephora.com. L'Occitane also has many US shops and sells via www.loccitane.com, though the prices will certainly be higher than in Paris!
Nov 30th, 2000, 02:29 PM
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Hi Kathryn,

I too enjoyed Chez Maitre Paul near Grand Hotel des Balcons. Glad to read your report and know that you all had a great time.
Nov 30th, 2000, 04:40 PM
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Thanks for a wonderful trip report. I especially liked that you included the good and the bad, the planned and the unplanned escapades. Your foursome's way of making decisions seems very similar to how our family operates, i.e. listening to each others' particular desires or cravings at various points in time and going with the flow. I will share your report with my husband and three kids before our June trip to France. Thanks again!
Nov 30th, 2000, 04:47 PM
Randall Smith
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Hello Neighbor,

We live in Indy and we really enjoyed your journal. My wife and I just bought a nice 2 BR, 2 Bath apartment in the Latin Quarter. I can run easily to the Jardin du Luxembourg from our apartment in 10 minutes or so.

If next time you would like to stay in an apartment rather than a dinky hotel room give us a call. We have great transportation with the Metro des Gobelins 2 doors down and Bus #91 which stops in front of our apartment. We're just steps away form the rue Mouffetard and can see the top of the Pantheon from our living room window.

Check out our website at http://www.lacigaleparis.com

Thanks again for your great report from the Paris.

Staying in an apartment is a wonderful way to really feel part of such a beautiful vibrant city.


Randall Smith
Dec 9th, 2000, 06:14 PM
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